Monday, August 27, 2018

But where is the Theosophy?

“Theosophical Outlook” was a somewhat obscure magazine, published by the Blavatsky Lodge of Theosophists in San Francisco. It's not clear to me who these people actually were, but presumably a split-off from the United Lodge of Theosophists.

This book contains reprints of back issues from 1918. They strike me as curious. The extensive quotations from Madame Blavatsky's writings, so prominent in earlier volumes, have been mostly dropped. Instead, the magazine contains lengthy excerpts from the publications of others. The anonymous editor seems to like Annie Besant and Harold Percival (who both led competing Theosophical groups), but also W B Yeats, who had broken with Theosophy. There are also many aphoristic quotes from Goethe, and long poems from various sources. The Blavatsky Lodge still loathes New Thought, and still searches for Atlantis in clippings about Easter Island or the Serpent Mound.

Paranormal phenomena are often discussed in the pages of “Theosophical Outlook”. The editor believes in the veracity of the Angels of Mons. He (or she) reports that an apparition of Wordsworth has been seen in a house previously occupied by the dead poet. However, there are also words of caution not to dabble too much with Spiritualist phenomena (the orthodox Theosophical position). A book containing what we would today call channelled messages – from Mark Twain! – is duly mocked. The superstitions of the Russian Czar are criticized, based on a book by one Iliodor the Mad Monk of Russia (sic).

The magazine contains political articles alongside the spiritual ones. These express strong support for the Allied side in World War I, support for American entry into the war, and attacks on “Lenine and Trotsky” for being German patsies. War is said to be necessary, and pacifism is criticized.

Not very interesting, and not very Theosophical either, except in a very broad sense.

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